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Eyeglass makers in Japan produce neck clips to save mask wearers from sore ears

A mask clip made of wood which can fasten mask strings behind the face without having to hook them behind the ears, created by Echizen Lacquerware Cooperative members, is shown in this photo taken in the Fukui Prefecture city of Sabae on May 20, 2020. (Mainichi/Chika Yokomi)
"Mask holders" made from leftover eyeglass frame material are shown in this photo taken in the Fukui Prefecture city of Sabae on May 20, 2020. The product shown in front is made by eyeglass maker Hayakawa Megane, while the other three are hairpin-design mask clips made by eyeglass maker Plus Jack. (Mainichi/Chika Yokomi)

SABAE, Fukui -- Prolonged use of masks to prevent droplet transmission of the novel coronavirus, has left some people's ears hurting from the elastic string loops, but two eyeglass makers and another company in this central Japan city have come up with a solution -- in the form of special clips.

The eyeglass manufacturers are using leftover material from the frames of glasses to create clips which can fasten the mask strings at the nape of wearers' necks rather than behind their ears, as well as items in the form of hairpins. The clips have captured public attention not only for reducing the strain on people's ears but for their stylish design, with some shaped like spectacles.

Hayakawa Megane, an eyeglass manufacturer located in the Jichucho district of the city of Sabae, made its eyeglass-shaped mask clips from leftover eyeglass frame scraps. The "arms" of the clip are long, so an adult can wear one without the mask feeling too tight on their face. The clips are being sold in a shop at Sabae city hall, and are currently in short supply. Plans have also been made to sell them at the Michinoeki Nishiyama Park rest area. The Hayakawa Megane mask clips cost 880 yen each, including tax.

Eyeglass maker Plus Jack based in the Miyukicho district of this same city, also used leftover scraps of the frames of spectacles to create a mask clip designed to resemble a woman's hairpin. The clips will be sold at the company's store and by other means, and cost 1,500 yen each including tax.

Members of the Echizen Lacquerware Cooperative, a cooperative association of companies involved in the business of this local traditional craft, also created mask clip products out of wood cutouts. The co-op sent out the products as presents during the entrance ceremony of elementary schools in the city to their classes of around 650 new first-graders on May 23. The products can be purchased on the website of Yamato Kougei, a manufacturer based in the Azodacho district of Sabae. The products cost 550 yen each, including tax.

(Japanese original by Chika Yokomi, Fukui Bureau)

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